Press Release from Sen. Ophelia Ford, D-Memphis, March 5, 2010:
Bill would make $20 million in city revenues available for priority projects
NASHVILLE – Sen. Ophelia Ford (D-Memphis) is sponsoring a bill to loosen restrictions on municipal funds to give Memphis and Shelby County officials the opportunity to improve downtown streetscapes.
“Our downtown desperately needs improvement, and I want to do everything I can to help speed the process,” Ford said. “These funds should be available to make downtown Memphis more beautiful.”
Under Ford’s bill (SB3050), approximately $20 million in tax-replacement revenues through the Center City Revenue Finance Corporation (CCRFC) in Memphis would be allowed for streetscape improvements like sidewalks, curbs, gutters, lighting and landscaping. Current law states those funds can only be used for specific, individual projects like public parking garages.
“There is basic public infrastructure that has not been repaired or replaced in 50 years,” said CCRFC President Jeff Sanford. “Downtown Memphis has seen $5 billion in mostly private investments in the last 10 to 15 years, so it only makes sense to repairing the public infrastructure around those investments.”
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Interim Mayor Joe Ford have called upon the city to complete a list of $43.5 million in priority improvements within 80 blocks of the downtown core. Sen. Ford’s bill would allow city and county officials the opportunity to approve the funds’ use for those projects.
“I want to give local government the option of using this money to complete a vital portion of Mayor Wharton and Mayor Ford’s agenda,” Sen. Ford said.
Should the bill pass, the CCRFC Board of Directors, Memphis City Council, Shelby County Commission and the Memphis and Shelby County mayors would have to approve the use of the tax-replacement revenues for public infrastructure improvements.
The bill passed in the Senate State and Local Government Committee Wednesday. The House version also is moving through committees.